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Friday, May 17th, 2013 at 9:17 am  |  50 responses

Post Up: Survival Tactics

San Antonio advances and New York forces Game 6.

Spurs 94, Warriors 82 (Spurs win series 4-2)

It’s funny how things can change in a short period of time. In this particular instance, let’s call it 14 months. 14 months ago, the Golden State Warriors were displaying the pageantry that an organization shows to their esteemed players to wear their uniform. That player was Chris Mullin, and that #17 uniform was to be hoisted into the rafters that night. Unfortunately for Joe Lacob, owner of said organization, when it was time to say a few words to the Warriors faithful, he was met with the type of wrath from the fans that’s usually reserved for the opposing team.

Boos. Lots of boos. Merciless boos.

That’s what happens when you trade a fan favorite for a questionable foundation piece. That’s what happens when your current head coach with no prior experience makes bold proclamations like, “we’re going to make the playoffs” as the team makes another appearance in the lottery. Even Warriors legends like Mullin and Rick Barry couldn’t get the fans to chill. Barry even went to lecturing the crowd, and that just caused the mob to reign down more boos onto the owner.

Fourteen months later, with a stiff drink in his hand and a smirk on his face, Joe Lacob stands on the outer edge of a Warriors locker room as players like David Lee and Draymond Green speak in hushed tones,and guys like Kent Bazemore prepare to clean out their lockers. He remembers that day and can reflect on it with pride. “I would’ve booed too if I was a fan in those stands. I would’ve been fed up.”

The San Antonio Spurs did what all savvy, battle-tested teams do to up-and-coming squads who make a run at their place in the Western Conference’s elite hierarchy. They taught them how to make the right plays, how to stay poised, how to play for each other, and how to play winning basketball. In the 94-82 victory, the Spurs gave the Warriors their much-needed lumps (even if that included a scary concussion to Harrison Barnes), and with their series-clinching win will move onto their next series with the Memphis Grizzlies. Just another day at the office for the Spurs, but for the Warriors, they got something else at the end of it all.

A standing ovation. A long one. A heartfelt one.

Jarrett Jack couldn’t leave the court. He was throwing his shoes into the crowd, giving his jersey away to a little boy and signing anything he could get his hands on. The crowd wouldn’t stop. Soon after, the rest of the team came out with him. Stephen Curry, on those weary ankles, came out to halfcourt and said a few words to the people. The crowd wouldn’t stop. Mark Jackson looked on with pride, knowing where he and this team started (the bottom?), and now they’re here.

A team on the rise. A cupboard full of talent. A new set of expectations.

It’s what every team desires to have, and only a precious few get to have it. The Spurs will return to San Antonio, get a brief moment to rest, and then its back to business. Since the Tim Duncan championship era began, it has been 14 years of eliteness (just made that word up) happening for the Spurs, and this team had to go through their own test. To slay the young lions. To exude that type of energy. To make significant sacrifices (including benching Duncan in the 4th quarter) in order to win big games. Maybe these Spurs still have a few lessons to learn to go along with a few more lessons to give.–Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan

Knicks 85, Pacers 75 (Pacers lead series 3-2)

It wasn’t pretty but the Knicks lived to see another day behind 28 points and 6 boards from Carmelo Anthony and a huge lift from Chris Copeland off the bench to send the series back to Indiana for a crucial Game 6. Copeland, who couldn’t get off the bench through the first four games of the series, finished with 13 points and provided a huge spark for the home team in the third quarter by hitting a few huge 3-pointers, much to the delight of the sold out Garden.

“I’m extremely happy that I could have some sort of impact on the game,” said a noticeably excited Copeland. “I think I can help us by spreading the floor and bringing Indiana’s big guys away from the basket. I’m just trying to make spacing better by being out there and giving Melo opportunities on the block and J.R. more space to roam and attack. I won’t call it a mismatch, but I will be helpful.”

Indiana, who was without starting point guard George Hill due to a concussion, didn’t stray from the style of hard-nosed basketball that has tormented the Knicks all series and were within striking distance into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for Indiana, they continually shot themselves in the foot with bad turnovers (19 on the game), sloppy play, and, most glaringly, missed free throws (14).

“At the free throw line, we just didn’t focus,” said Paul George, who finished with 23 points, 6 dimes and 6 boards. “We have really struggled with that throughout the whole series and this whole playoff run. We need to focus in, those are really important. We allowed the Knicks to pressure us and take us out of our offense a little bit, we gotta do a better job with that.”

The Knicks got off to a hot start, but quickly fell back into the poor shooting ways that have plagued them all series long. Despite another poor performance from the field, the Knicks led wire-to-wire and have faith heading back to Indiana where they have struggled all season long.

“No matter who’s saying what, everyone in this locker room, we believe,” said Raymond Felton. “We believe in ourselves, we believe in each other and now we need to go out there and make it happen.”

With Hill out and Roy Hibbert and Paul George both in foul trouble, the Pacers’ bench reared its ugly head while New York’s reserves contributed in a big way. Outside of D.J. Augustin and Lance Stephenson, Indiana has no other guards that can step in and help. Augustin was terrible in the starting role, finishing with 12 points on 3-9 shooting and 0(!) assists while Stephenson got banged around all night and came up hobbling on several occasions. All of a sudden, Hill’s status is an x-factor in this series, no matter what Frank Vogel says.

“We got plenty to beat the Knicks with or without George Hill,” said Pacers’ head coach Frank Vogel. “The guys in uniform need to play better.”

Indiana is going back home with a loss under their belts and momentum back in the Knicks’ favor . During the playoffs, the more desperate team often wins and last night, it was the Knicks who had their backs against the wall. With the Heat having already advanced past to the Conference Finals, and New York with new life the Pacers are feeling the pressure and cannot afford to head back to Manhattan for a Game 7.–Peter Walsh

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  • http://twitter.com/apowellAdvocate Allen Powell II

    After the first three games, I’ll admit to wondering if the Spurs would advance. They seemed to have no answer for Curry or Thompson. Yet, Pop went back to the drawing board, changed his strategy, and the entire series changed after that point.
    That’s what good coaches do. Period. He made life miserable for the Warriors guards, which trickled down to everyone else. Yes, he allowed Barnes to go off, but he saw that as a reasonable tradeoff.

  • i_ball

    Spurs – Grizzlies is going to 7 I think. SAS wins it

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Indiana desperately needs George Hill. He is the gate keeper to New Yorks offense. And the gate is wide open with DJ Augustine getting his minutes.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/savagemuzicgroup T-Ray

    Agreed. It’s a testament to how good of a coach Pop is. Make the necessary adjustments and execute the plan. Great effort from the Warriors but in the end experience got the best of them. Looking forward to the WCF should be great. Can’t help but feel that the Spurs want a little payback for Memphis making history at their expense in 2011.

  • RayJr

    The Warriors definately had a very successful season, I like where they are going and think they should build on Curry and Barnes. The way Klay played though these last few games he put himself into that “odd man out James Harden scenario”, if the Warriors have to make that decision.

    Spurs have definately impressed and it’s all Popovich. I mean sitting first ballot hall of famer Duncan at the end of the 4th??? Wow what a gutsy move. Bravo

    @nbk You are 110% right on George Hill.

  • Mike Mihalow

    Agreed. Matt Bonner gonna get his ass whooped though

  • The Fury

    George Hill learned a lot in Pop, that’s why he’s pretty good right now, straight from DIII school to the League, a great feel good story.

  • Drig

    I’m good on my predictions so far aside from the Lakers……Sigh.

    GS took a lot of bad shots near the end there. Too many midrangers. Also, the Spurs look very vulnerable.

    Ginobli’s shooting without a conscience and he isn’t shooting well. Parker hasn’t been consistent either.

    Memphis is gonna destroy the Spurs in a battle of attrition. Pop better hope his team wins both the home games and gets lucky in a road game. Because right now, Memphis has all the momentum.

    Memphis in 6 IMO.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i still have SA in 7. Memphis doesn’t have the wing scorer they need to beat the Spurs. I don’t think Gasol/Randolph is a big advantage over Duncan/Splitter. Tiago Splitter is much better than Dejuan Blair. That loss a couple years ago is much different than the one today.
    .
    And i don’t understand the idea that Memphis has all the momentum. The Spurs just beat a better team.

  • http://twitter.com/Victori56928710 Victoria Russell

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  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    oh why thank you sir

  • Anton

    MVP.

  • LakeShow

    Grizz in 6 or 7 without a doubt.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    lol without a doubt

  • The Fury

    Ginobili indeed doesn’t shoot well right now, but he brings a lot more other than scoring. The guy makes plays, the last 3-pointers (2 on Parker and 1 on Kawhi) that gave them a huge lead against the Warriors (in the crucial minutes, all passes from Ginobili) was the X-factor. Spurs’ have the advantage since they have a better bench than the Grizzlies.

  • Junior Taylor

    I am with you on that which is why I am not sure why everyone has Memphis penciled in for the Finals. The Spurs are probably the one team out West that matches up perfectly with Memphis. Speedy PGs (Conley vs Parker), good frontline (Thago/TD vs ZBo/Gasol) and excellent coaching (Pop vs Hollins)

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i think Hollins is supremely overrated. He has just been fortunate to face inferior coaches thus far…. i think that will be exposed in this series.

  • http://twitter.com/apowellAdvocate Allen Powell II

    Overrated how. He’s not a top tier coach, but he’s definitely right below them. He gets his guys motivated, convinced ZBo to pass and defend and shows enough offensive wrinkles. Handles a rotation with some serious holes very well too.
    Yes, he could be more creative with his play calling, and more flexible in his defensive assignments, but I think he’s a good coach.

  • Junior Taylor

    Maybe “excellent” was the best choice of word to describe Hollins especially in comparison with Pop but Hollins is a very good coach. He does a great job of adjusting on a game-to-game basis and has the utmost respect of his players

  • Mariano

    I don’t think IUPUI is DIII… I think it’s D1

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    No I agree with you. That he’s good. But I’ve been hearing people call him elite/excellent/one of the best, which I think is overblown. He’s closer to Scott Brooks as a coach than he is to Gregg Popovich.
    .
    The Grizzlies are chalk full of very intelligent players that play the game the right way. Hollins, publicly, didn’t notice this after that trade. He thought they took a step back and he was pissed. That little episode and this interview ( http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/56468/qa-lionel-hollins-on-the-rudy-gay-trade-the-grizzlies-playoff-chances-and-nba-manliness ) have fueled my apprehension.

  • LakeShow

    Agreeing or mocking lol?
    nevermind, I read your opinion below.
    We shall see man.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I am not so sure about the adjustments either honestly. Let’s see what Hollins does when a team actually changes how they play to take advantage of what his lineups are not able to do. So far, Scott Brooks and Vinny Del Negro is not what I would call much of a test.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i cannot believe you questioned if the Spurs would beat the Warriors.

  • http://twitter.com/apowellAdvocate Allen Powell II

    YOu telling me those first three games didn’t have you thinking “This looks a lot like what the Thunder did in the final four games last year.”
    Because that’s what I was thinking. Curry was roasting them AT HOME! Come on man. That ain’t normal.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    nope. Curry was shooting an unsustainable % from the field. Nobody was beating the Spurs at the rim. I didn’t see any reason to think the Spurs were going to lose the series after GS coughed up that 16 point lead in game 1. too inexperienced, to sporadic.
    .
    If the regular season is a teams mean, i don’t see why i would assume they are going to play that far above it for more than a game or two in any given series. especially a young team like Golden State.

  • http://twitter.com/vannshy vannshy

    well the Suns (i cant remember the year) did play above their average during the length of the serie, or at least Goran did, so i understand what Allen is saying here

  • Caboose

    Whichever team wins the West will win the Finals.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    The Suns were favored. And won that series 4-0

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    You realize Memphis almost got eliminated by the freaking Clippers….and San Antonio has looked like everything but a champion, right?

  • Caboose

    Yup.

  • Drig

    Except Ginobli was also the reason GSW got SO.MANY.CHANCES to get back into the game with his TOs and shot selection. Except GSW’s players all fell back down to earth at the worst possible moment.

    Then came Parker’s 3 which broke them.

    SAS simply isn’t closing off teams as well as it should. And would’ve a few years ago. And that’s a bad thing if you have championship aspirations.

  • Drig

    The Spurs have looked very shaky vs a team that can’t defend well. Memphis has the better starting lineup. Spurs have better depth. Memphis has better defense. Spurs have better offense.

    Gasol/Randolph are a big advantage over Duncan/Splitter. With all due respect to Splitter, he cannot take over the load on either side if Duncan’s in foul trouble. Z-Bo can’t be the defensive anchor the team needs but he is a much better scorer than Splitter is.

    Spurs backcourt has also been more inconsistent than Memphis, save for Kawhi. Hell, the Spurs big 3 has been more inconsistent throughout than Memphis big 3.

    IF Ginobli can get his shooting stroke back, I’d say the Spurs in 7. However, with all the TOs and erratic shooting he’s displayed the last 2 series, I’m thinking he’s got little left in the tank…….

  • Drig

    He’s better than Scott Brooks.

  • Drig

    You do realize that the refs will NOT swallow their whistles and will call touch fouls on Memphis/Spurs if the ECF team is Miami right?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I said closer

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Lol k

  • Drig

    Glad to see I wasn’t the only one who didn’t hop onto the Curry bandwagon.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Fair, we will see soon. We will see

  • Drig

    …………and I’m done.

  • Drig

    The reason is that everyone on Memphis roster is in good form. SAS is struggling to get their big 3 going and depending heavily on Green and Kawhi’s growth.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Man people were hating on me for thinking they wouldn’t lose in SA. Then same people got all smug about SA being the worse team……that worked out well.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I don’t understand this. It is probably obvious, but the day has been long.

  • http://twitter.com/AjpDos Allen Powell

    I was upset too. They dropped their only isolation scorer on the perimeter and Conley had shown now signs of his subsequent leap.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I was upset in that it was being reported as a salary dump. But when it was was later explained (like the next day) that it was a move to make the team better and it was explained. It made perfect sense to me. Hollins never showed any inclination because he doesn’t truly trust advanced stats or whatever it is. But that’s not the only thing, certain adjustments and gameplanning things I’ve seen from the Grizzlies over the last 2 years have also bothered me. But I could say that about 90% of teams. I may be over critical here.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Top 3 coach in NBA history. Personally, I would put him at #1. As great as Timmy is, Pop has coached far less talented teams than Phil Jackson and Red Auerbach.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Either way this might be the best series of the playoffs so far. I can’t wait. Throwback big men and great defensive minded coaching. F*ck yes.

  • http://twitter.com/vannshy vannshy

    oh they were ? my bad, i didnt remember. But given their past history i thought it was the other way around

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Yeah lol, I don’t blame you.

  • Conor

    Yes, sir.

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